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Southwestern Union

November | December 2020 President’s 4 AJourney

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Back in the Classroom

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A Time for Everything

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Faithful in All Seasons

An Intentional Journey Growing and Thriving in Every Season


Growing and Thriving in Every Season

November | December 2020 Vol. 119, No. 06

An Intentional Journey

Features

4 A President’s Journey 8 Faithful in All Seasons

Columns

6 Education: Back in the Classroom 7 Equipping: A Time for Everything 10 Wholeness: Colorful Dishes

News

Back Pages

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The Record is an official publication of the Southwestern Union of Seventh-day Adventists.

Southwestern Union Southwestern Adventist University Arkansas-Louisiana Conference Oklahoma Conference Southwest Region Conference Texas Conference Texico Conference

43 Classified Ads 45 Obituaries

EDITOR

Jessica L. Lozano jlozano@swuc.org MANAGING EDITOR

Kristina Pascual Busch kpascual@swuc.org LAYOUT/DESIGN

Rachel Ortiz info@rortizdesign.com CIRCULATION

Tammy G. Prieto tprieto@swuc.org ADVERTISING

Bradley Ecord becord@swuc.org

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS ARKANSAS-LOUISIANA Frances Alcorn, news@arklac.org

Editor’s Note As we reach a season of the year where we wear cozy sweaters and eat warm soup, where there is less daylight and more time spent indoors, let’s take the opportunity to reflect on this past year and its seasons. While there was winter, spring, summer and fall, there were also seasons of joy, sorrow, peace and chaos. As we think about those times, let’s ask ourselves, did we act intentionally? Did we do what we said we would do? Did we follow the paths God laid before us? In this issue of the Record, we take time to examine the seasons of our lives and remember how God has led us in each one. As we focus on this topic, let’s also take a moment to ask God to lead us into our next seasons.

Jessica L. Lozano Jessica L. Lozano

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OKLAHOMA Daniel Ortega, news@okla-adventist.org SOUTHWEST REGION Leslie Soupet, news@swrgc.org TEXAS Kenn Dixon, news@txsda.org TEXICO Debby Márquez, news@texico.org SOUTHWESTERN ADVENTIST UNIVERSITY Timothy Kosaka, tim@swau.edu

Southwestern Union Conference P.O. Box 4000 Burleson, TX, 76097 Phone: 817.295.0476 Email: Record@swuc.org

Our Mission: The Mission of the Southwestern Union is to equip and inspire the Southwestern Union territory with the distinctive Adventist message of hope and wholeness.


On the Record

An Intentional Journey

Growing and Thriving in Every Season

Larry Moore | President

Almost everything has a season. The earth, our lives, our friends, our jobs, even our families. Seasons are a changing constant in our lives. However, it seems that some people handle seasons better than others. Perhaps this is due to planning or flexibility. I believe that if we plan for things a little better, we could make a more lasting impact and maybe even be more successful in each season. However, it is usually in retrospect that we recognize these things. I have often wished that I could have made a couple of different decisions. Wise decisions would have affected my whole life. Wisdom comes from God. James 1:15 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Wise counsel and guidance comes from the Word of God. I also have learned that it is wise to listen to friends and family. Not all words are wise; we must listen and discern. We must depend on God to help us to make good choices. It may be too late to change some of your past decisions. But you have the rest of your life to make better decisions. Seek the Lord and seek wise counsel. Let’s pray for each other, that we may live intentionally and make wise decisions in each season of our lives. Ask God to help. It will make all the difference.

“To everything there is a season,” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV), “a time for every purpose under heaven.” The text challenges us to understand the value of life and how we utilize the time we are given. Solomon continues, “A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away.” When Solomon was given the kingship of Israel, he longed for quickness of mind, largeness of heart and tenderness of spirit. In the night season, which would prove to be Solomon’s season of enlightenment, the Lord said to him, “Ask what I shall give thee.” Solomon’s request was for wisdom. In his heart there was no selfish aspiration for a knowledge that would exalt him above others. He didn’t ask for riches; he sought wisdom to live and reign to bring glory to God. That was Solomon’s time to gain. As long as Solomon stayed connected to the Lord, he was blessed beyond measure, for what God promises He will always supply. When he became disconnected from God, he lost his focus and sinned against the One who had granted his desire. That was Solomon’s time of loss. In whatever season of life, we must maintain our connection with God by consulting the source of all wisdom moment by moment. “Pray without ceasing,” says 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV). This is our time to keep close to the Lord and put away that which hinders our connection with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

John Page | Treasurer

Buford Griffith, Jr. Executive Secretary

I love all the different seasons of the year. The change in the weather gives us variety that we can enjoy. Did you know that the Arctic Fox changes fur colors for different seasons? In the summer the Arctic Fox has a gray-black coat, and in the winter the fur changes to a thick white one to adapt to the winter. There are some birds that can tell the changes of the seasons by the changes in the length of day. Change in life sometimes can be hard. We have different seasons in our lives and sometimes it is hard to adjust or even thrive. What do we do when these difficult changes come, and who do we turn to to help us or guide us through the tough times in life? Joseph had major changes in his life and difficult seasons. Joseph went from being a favorite son to being sold into slavery, then from slavery to prison. He was promoted as prison caretaker, and then promoted as the highest person in the kingdom under Pharaoh. In Genesis 39:2, 21, we see that when Joseph was a slave and a prisoner, “the Lord was with Joseph.” Joseph had big struggles (seasons), but he relied on and trusted in God in every situation. God provided for Joseph, and God will provide all your needs and help you thrive in every season of your life.

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Growing and Thriving in Every Season

A President’s

Journey Reflections on Following God’s Call

When Larry Moore was a young boy, he and his parents had just become members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Antonio when they received a visit from their new pastor. Larry was in another room of the family home, listening as the pastor invited his parents to send him to the church school across town. It was 1961 and Larry was 12 years old. “I said to myself, ‘There is no way that I’m going to go to that school,’” he says, laughing. He liked his new church and he loved Jesus, but the public school near his house suited him just fine. The pastor was persistent and made a suggestion. The church school’s first day was a week before the public school’s. Why not try it out for a week to see how it went? Larry agreed to the plan in order to appease the pastor and his parents. Internally, however, Larry remained resistant. Moore entered eighth grade at San Antonio Junior Academy that fall and met many people who would become life-long friends and even colleagues in ministry, including Jeanne Keplinger, the young woman who would become his wife. “And the rest is history,” says Moore. He didn’t return to his former school; instead he completed eighth through tenth grades at the junior academy and made the decision to continue in Adventist education by attending Southwestern Union College Academy (now Chisholm Trail Academy) and Southwestern Union College (now Southwestern Adventist University) in Keene, Texas. In his time at the academy and college, he worked at the on-campus cabinet shop in order to

pay for tuition. It was his job to apply lacquer to the finished cabinets, a job he did for six years until his graduation from the university. “As a new college student, I didn’t know what career path I might choose at Southwestern. My parents had a moving business, and I thought I might work with them. My mom thought perhaps I should become a lawyer, but I didn’t really think that was for me. I’d become an expert at applying lacquer, but couldn’t picture myself doing that forever. I was attending a Week of Prayer, and the speaker asked a very specific question. He asked if anyone felt the call to become a pastor for the church. The speaker asked a few times that week, and I felt convicted. I felt very strongly that the Holy Spirit was working on both the heart of the speaker as well as on my own heart. I stood up and accepted that call. From then on I knew the path before me was to follow God’s calling to become a pastor and to let Him lead my life.” Moore completed his bachelor’s in theology, and, after graduation, he again relied on God’s leading and accepted a call to work as a pastoral intern in a small Arkansas district. By then, he and Jeanne had married, and they took on the Mountain Home and Mountain View churches, which had about 80 members between them. “I was happy to be there. One thing that I’d learned while working in the cabinet shop, and that I relearned again and again, was to never look at any opportunity or job as a waste of time or beneath me. There is always a greater purpose in play, and there is always something to learn in those opportunities. In the cabinet shop, I learned how to get along with

“God has led me to places that I never would have expected.”

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Growing and Thriving in Every Season

people, something that helped me greatly throughout the years. If God puts you somewhere, do your best and see what it is that you can learn from the experience,” says Moore. In a few years, the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference offered to sponsor his studies at the Andrews University Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where he earned a masters in divinity. During this time, he and Jeanne started a family, having two daughters, Becky and Cindy. After attending seminary, the family returned to the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference to pastor in Louisiana. In the early 1980s, he was asked to pastor in the Arizona Conference, where he spent a decade pastoring in the Phoenix and Tucson area, before being called back to Texas to serve as the Texas Conference executive secretary from 1994 through 1997. In 1997 he became president of the Nevada-Utah Conference, where he served until 2004. In that year he joined the Burleson, Texas, church as its senior pastor. Larry thought he might finish his career there, but God had other plans. The Texas Conference asked him to take on the role of ministerial director in 2010, and in 2011, Larry was surprised to be called to the role of president for the Texas Conference. Within a month, however, he’d been called again to become the president of the Southwestern Union. “God has led me to places that I never would have expected,” says Moore.

Many times in his life and career, Moore had to step out in faith that he was following God’s will. In those times, he recalled his favorite Bible scripture, Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Larry held on to those words of comfort and promise as he began his pastoral ministry as a young man, and as he took on new pastoral and administrative roles as God called him throughout his career. He recalls that it was that first step into Adventist education that influenced his life and career paths, and to committing to follow wherever God led. After a lifetime in service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and having spent nearly 10 years as the Southwestern Union president, Moore announced his plans to retire at the 31st Constituency Session of the Southwestern Union on April 25, 2021. While Moore intends to continue serving God and has plans to volunteer with Adventist Community Services, he is looking forward to spending some quality time with his wife, children, and three grandchildren. By Jessica Lozano. Lozano is the Southwestern Union Communication Director and Record Editor.

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Education

Back in the Classroom Educators, Students and Families Adjust to this Year’s New Normal By Daniel Spooner, Parkview Adventist Academy Fifth and Sixth Grade Teacher

During my time in Oklahoma and teaching at Parkview Adventist Academy, I have had many new experiences. Every year has its challenges as you get used to that year’s students. Additionally, with every new student, the classroom dynamics change completely. However, nothing can compare to the challenge of COVID-19 and all that goes with it. In order to face this challenge and meet my students’ needs, outside-the-box thinking has become a necessity. As summer came to an end and the fall semester loomed near, our school normally would have focused on minor details such as putting up bulletin boards, cleaning classrooms and hallways and making sure instruction materials were prepared. While these things still had to be done, a new component entered our to-do list in the form of clear classroom partitions for the students. We had a goal to make our school both safe and as free of restriction as possible. We spent many hours in the weeks before school began creating our own classroom partitions. However, all was not done and back to normal.

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Between the efforts of the school’s board, medical advisors and guidelines from the CDC, we needed to make some changes to how the school days would proceed. Each morning before school begins, the faculty puts on facial coverings, sanitizes hands and takes their own temperatures. Then half of us meet parents and students outside to perform screenings for COVID-19 symptoms. Afterwards, we head inside, where we follow hygienic practices such as washing hands, using hand sanitizer and maintaining proper distancing. In the classroom, students can work from their desks without face coverings thanks to the partitions we created. Through these safety measures and with God’s blessing, we have thus far been spared from any outbreaks. For the most part, my students say they feel pretty safe and protected. Some students who haven’t made it back to campus have been able to participate in our school year virtually. One development in our school which has been great, but exceptionally challenging, is distance education. While not

a new concept, implementing distance education alongside in-class education was uncharted territory. In most circumstances we have been able to implement education for both operating simultaneously. However, it’s very taxing on the teachers and proves a challenge. In my classroom I have had both in-class and distance education classes going all year long, and it keeps me from boredom to be sure! While it is difficult, the benefits of being able to include these students who would otherwise not be able to visit and interact with their peers in the class are immense. Above and beyond everything else though, I am most proud of our students and their parents during this time. Parents and students alike have been understanding, patient and helpful throughout the entire process of adapting to the changes in what we consider “normal.” Parents have been so patient during the longer waits to drop off students. Students have done better than I could have ever dreamed with wearing their PPE and maintaining hygiene. When any problems have arisen with technology, students and parents alike have been ready and willing to help and assist each other. While the experiences of the past few months have been trying, I believe they have helped our students, their parents and the school personnel to grow more patient, understanding and thoughtful toward one another. In no way has it been easy, but God’s grace has sustained us and I feel He will bring good from these circumstances as He has promised. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.


Equipping

A Time for Everything Embrace Each Season and All God Has in Store for You

By Kristina Pascual Busch, Southwestern Union Associate Communication Director and Record Managing Editor

A year has four seasons. The cropping cycle has seasons for sowing, growing and reaping. Our lives go through seasons, our families go through seasons, even our careers have seasons. Solomon understood that everything has seasons and outlined that inevitability in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I wasn’t particularly fond of the rest of this chapter growing up. Build, laugh, dance? I’m on board with that! Tear, weep, mourn? No thanks, I’ll pass. However, as I grew more aware of the world around me I realized we don’t really have a choice. The tearing, weeping and mourning is inescapable. So, instead, I learned to accept and even expect the parts of Ecclesiastes 3 that made me cringe.

Wait, Go, Grow

Accepting this fact, however, is not resignation. Resignation is passive, it’s giving up on a situation. Acceptance is active, it’s acknowledging what is in your power to control and what is not.

Acceptance sets you up to take the next step. Regardless of the season, you can choose to be intentional and even thrive in each one. In my life, I’ve found that seasons usually have some element of waiting or going, coupled with a dose of growing. The waiting seasons can challenge and they can reward. Our faith can be strengthened and our hopes fulfilled. God works while we wait. But we don’t have to wait passively; we can also grow. Can we deepen our devotion in our wait? Can our patience increase in this season? If this season is calling you to go, then go and grow. God may have asked us to take a leap of faith or trust His leading in a new direction. We may not have all the answers, but we can learn and grow along the way. Have we gained a new perspective? Are we relying on God more than ourselves? In each season we know that whatever we do, we can do it in the name of the Lord (Colossians 3:17). Whether we are waiting or going, we can be content with growing through God who gives us the

strength to get through it (Phillippians 4:13). You can grow in each season as a person and in your relationship with the Lord.

For Such a Time as This

Jeremiah 29:11 confirms that God has a unique plan for each of us. Whichever season you are currently in is part of that plan. I don’t think Esther completely understood the purpose of her royal season at first. She trusted and was obedient, but not until her uncle shared these words did she fully grasp where God had led her: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place... And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14. What season has God called you into today? As a spouse or parent? As a leader or employee? As a sibling or friend? God has a purpose for you in such a time as this. How can you thrive in this and every season of your journey?

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Growing and Thriving in Every Season

Faithful in all

Seasons Two Lifetimes of Commitment “Serve [the Lord] faithfully with all your heart.” Kathy and Leland Flyger, members of the Lubbock Seventh-day Adventist Church in west Texas, have taken this instruction in 1 Samuel 12:24 very seriously throughout their lives. And that’s saying a lot, since this summer Leland celebrated his 90th birthday and Kathy is 83. “It seems to matter little how many years rack up; they continue to have the same commitment to serving the Lord and being active in church,” says Phil Robertson, Texico Conference executive secretary/treasurer and Lubbock church interim pastor. Every week, Kathy helps out in the church office, while Leland puts his engineering training to good use fixing anything that’s broken. This image of the Flygers hasn’t changed since the day they married in 1955, when they lived in Wichita, Kansas, for seven years. This is where Leland says he learned to be a deacon. “The head deacon at the Wichita church took me under his wing and trained me,” Leland says. “He taught me to serve the people and gave me my start in being a church leader.” It was here, too, that Leland and Kathy recommitted themselves to Christ. “We wanted to dedicate our lives as servants in any way we could,” Kathy remembers.

we don’t see anything but God’s hand in it, orchestrating our move,” Leland says. When they arrived, there was not a Seventh-day Adventist church in Arlington. People drove many miles to the closest towns to attend church. Following a evangelistic crusade by Bill May that was sponsored by the Irving, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth Handley churches, several Arlington Adventists, including the Flygers, decided it was time for a church in Arlington. Together, they started the process, and as of December 14, 1963, Arlington had a church. Over the next 40 years, the Flygers helped build the church from the ground up as two of 36 charter members. Leland served as head deacon and head elder, and Kathy served as the church clerk, Cradle Roll Leader or wherever else needed. According to Kathy, the highlight of her service was working with the late pastor, Gayle Tucker, in the church office. When Leland retired, he turned his attention to maintaining the church facilities. “Church was everything,” Kathy recalls. “Our family was church. Our friends were church. All of our kids went to church school and we took turns picking up each other’s kids. There was never a conflict for us trying to live our lives and be involved in church; our life was church.”

Planting a Seed in Arlington

Nurturing Growth in Lubbock

“We’ve dedicated ourselves to Christ in any way we can be of use,” Kathy says. “And God has taken care of us.”

When Leland’s work sent them to Dallas, Texas, they searched for a house with the stipulation that he didn’t have to drive facing the sun both ways to go to work. They were unsuccessful at every turn. Finally, they went to Arlington— the one place they didn’t want to live because it meant driving into the sun both ways on the commute. Without any problem at all, a house was available—a house that didn’t require a down payment until they got their tax return. “Looking back,

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Finally, the Flygers decided it was time to settle in and enjoy retirement. They moved to Lubbock, Texas, to be near their daughter and grandchildren. They weren’t there long before Sean Robinson, pastor of the Lubbock Church at the time, reached out and asked Leland if he would serve as head elder. After much debate, Leland accepted. That was twenty years ago, and the Flygers still feel they have been divinely led to Lubbock—just as they feel they were


Growing and Thriving in Every Season

led by God in every other part of their lives. “We’ve dedicated ourselves to Christ in any way we can be of use,” Kathy says. “And God has taken care of us.” The Flygers share several testimonies of God’s faithfulness. When they came to Lubbock, the church was raising funds for a new facility. The Flygers committed to regular contributions as long as they didn’t have to replace their vehicle. “Our cars just kept running and running,” Leland exclaims. “We haven’t even needed more than basic repairs.” Lubbock sees a lot of damaging hail, and as a result, most residents find they need to replace their roofs regularly. In the last three years, all of their neighbors have had to replace their roofs and skylights twice, but the Flygers have only recently, after a particularly bad storm, had to replace theirs for the first time in 20 years. Five years ago, Leland survived a near-death accident. The fact that he took a turn leisurely rather than at regular speed, he attributes to his angel slowing him down. “Our roof shingles last longer, our tires last longer, and we walk away after dangerous accidents,” Kathy says. “I often find myself wondering if I’ve been grateful enough. We sometimes take these gifts for granted but they don’t happen to everyone.” Leland and Kathy have continued to be faithful in their service to God and the church, insisting they don’t need payment. “Honestly, the church does for us more than we do for it,” Kathy says. “When Leland woke up ill three years ago, blind in one eye, he was in and out of the hospital for quite some time. We honestly didn’t think he was going to live. Our church family stepped in and took care of us.”

Nurses in the Lubbock church became Leland’s personal at-home nurses cooking healthy food, making nourishing juices and managing the vitamin regimen Leland needed until he was out of the woods with his illness. The church elders brought communion and the church youth visited Sabbath afternoons. With tears in her eyes, Kathy says, “This church has given back so much; we’ve been paid in love and kindness.” Though Leland can no longer climb ladders or repair the roof, he still does everything he can around the church, including electrical work and plumbing. Kathy dedicates her days to covering the office and preparing the weekly church bulletin. “It’s natural for us to be at the church working,” Leland says. “If we are not there issuing food vouchers, changing light bulbs, painting, fixing or folding the bulletins, we feel lost. This is home.” In all their years of service, the Flygers have only had their membership at five churches. “There is a longevity of service wherever they’ve been,” says Robertson. “They’ve dug deep and given much; they are faithful in all seasons. I’m honored to know them and grateful for their commitment to the Lord.” If you ask the Flygers about their ministry and service to the church, they respond in humility. To them, faithfulness is as natural a part of life as breathing. “We’re part of this family and that’s what drives us,” Kathy says. “We’re cherished, we’re nourished, and what little we can do in return, we want to do.” By Becky St. Clair. St. Clair is a freelance writer and lives in the Napa Valley area of California with her family.

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Wholeness

Colorful Dishes Seasonal Foods for Year-Round Health

By Melissa Hardin, Texas Health Hospital Mansfield Nutritional Services Dietitian When we think about the seasons changing, often the nostalgia of leaves turning colors comes to mind. While new seasons can bring about unique traditions and memories, they also provide seasonal fruits and vegetables that remind us of family recipes made during the holidays. Beyond being a family favorite, seasonal fruits and vegetables are not only delicious, but they are also packed full of vitamins and minerals that can be beneficial to our health and provide protection from chronic diseases. Some of these seasonal fruits and vegetables include Brussels sprouts, apples and cranberries. Each color of a fruit or vegetable represents specific nutrients and, therefore, provides different benefits to the body. For example, apples and cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, which promotes heart health and reduces the risk of certain cancers. Additionally, Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin A, which supports the immune system and helps maintain healthy teeth and bones. All of these foods are also good sources of fiber, which can help manage blood sugar and maintain the feeling of fullness. This season while you are enjoying the change of colors, do not forget to also enjoy the different colors of fruits and vegetables, as each of them provides different benefits to the body to maintain health and protect against chronic diseases. For a fun and easy seasonal dish, consider trying this recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts with apples and cranberries from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Not only is it quick and simple to make, but it is also packed full of antioxidants and is the perfect addition to any holiday meal.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apple and Cranberries INGREDIENTS • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered • 1 medium sweet (e.g. Gala, Fuji) apple, cored and diced • ½ cup dried cranberries • ½ cup 100% apple or orange juice • 2 tsp canola oil • 1 tsp minced fresh tarragon • ¼ tsp salt, or to taste • ⅛ tsp freshly-ground black pepper • ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 375ºF. Combine Brussels sprouts, apple and cranberries in a large bowl. Set aside. Blend juice, oil, tarragon, salt and pepper in a small bowl; add to Brussels sprouts mixture; toss until well coated. Arrange the Brussels sprouts mixture in a 9-by9-inch baking dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the Brussels sprouts are fork tender. To serve, top with toasted pecans. © Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/ recipes/roasted-brussels-sprouts-with-apple-and-cranberries-recipe, accessed October 2020. Printed with permission. For more information visit EatRight.org.


Southwestern Union News

Executive Committee

Meeting Highlights Healthcare, Education and Ministries BURLESON, TEX. – The Executive Committee of the Southwestern Union met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 23 via Zoom. A devotional message, “Hearing God’s Voice,” was presented by Southwest Region Conference President Calvin Watkins, Sr., followed by a report on the Southwest Region Conference, presented by Watkins and Philip Palmer, Southwest Region Conference’s treasurer. Highlights from the report included the conference’s emphasis on evangelism via digital media, family ministries, youth programming, religious liberty, the development of an active media ministry and continuing campground development at Lone Star Camp.

AdventHealth

Penny Johnson, president and CEO of Texas Health Huguley Fort Worth South, reported on the activity of the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that no employees of the hospital have been furloughed during the pandemic, which allowed the hospital to serve individuals in its normal, high-quality manner. She also reported on expansion as it relates to the Dec. 1, 2020, opening of the newest facility in the AdventHealth family, Texas Health Mansfield in Mansfield, Tex., a 60-bed hospital that will employ 400 people.

Membership Report

Southwestern Union Executive Secretary Buford Griffith presented the Southwestern Union membership report. As of Aug. 31, 2020, membership across the Southwestern Union territory was 124,109.

Southwestern Adventist University

Ken Shaw, president of Southwestern Adventist University, reported on the status of the university, noting an increase in enrollment for the 2020-

2021 school year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The current enrollment stands at 772. Shaw also reported that the university was the recent recipient of the U.S. Department of Education Title V Grant totaling $2,517,376 over five years. This grant is given to Hispanic-serving institutions; the university has a Hispanic student population that constitutes 45 percent of the student body. Shaw reported that the grant would be used to create a first-year experience to increase retention; optimize advising; provide greater career awareness; and expand internships.

Pastoral Candidates

The committee voted to approve the recommendation from the Texas Conference for commissioning and ordination of the following pastoral candidates. Commissioned: Allison Casillas; Olga Falakiseni. Ordained: Stephen Kabah; Ki Taek (Keith) Lim; Sergio L. Ochaeta; Orlando Rosales; Adrian Solis; Marlon Adauto Wallas.

Operating Statement and Revolving Fund Report

John Page, Southwestern Union treasurer, presented the July 31, 2020, operating financial statement and revolving fund report, noting appropriations to conferences and new church loans. Page reported that, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, through Aug. 20, tithe remains strong across the Southwestern Union with an increase of around one percent compared with 2019. Additionally, he reported that in order to assist churches during this time, the revolving fund allowed churches and conferences with loans to pay interest only payments or the full loan payment from April to September.

K-12 Education

Carol Campbell, vice president for education, reported on schools reopening

amongst the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Campbell, superintendents, principals and teachers in Southwestern Union schools have worked relentlessly during the pandemic to develop and implement plans for reopening for fall. They have been supported with resources from all levels of the Adventist school system—North American Division, Southwestern Union and local conferences. The plans have been contextualized to meet state and public school district protocols in which schools reside. Campbell noted that enrollment has been impacted by COVID-19, with an approximately 14 percent decrease in enrollment across the Southwestern Union. Campbell expressed gratitude for the Southwestern Union’s educational relief fund, which is providing appropriations to schools impacted by COVID-19. “The Lord continues to bless through the challenges, and we look to Him for guidance as Adventist education advances in the Southwestern Union,” said Campbell.

Ministries Reports

The meeting concluded with inspiring reports from the men’s ministries, children’s ministries and women’s ministries departments, highlighting several online and virtual events that took place during the summer and early fall. The events included the children’s ministries department assisting the North American Division by hosting a live “at home” Vacation Bible School, and the inaugural men’s ministries virtual gathering in September, Stronger Together, which has been a catalyst for growth in men’s ministries across the Southwestern Union. The meeting was adjourned with prayer by James Winegardner, pastor. The next executive committee meeting will take place on Nov. 12.

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Southwestern Union News

Stronger Together

Men’s Ministries Virtual Gathering

BURLESON, TEX. – At a time when it is difficult to physically be together, the men’s ministries departments from the Southwestern Union and its conferences felt the need to provide an opportunity for fellowship and inspiration for men. Stronger Together, a men’s ministries virtual gathering, took place on Sept. 5. The gathering, which was presented in English and Spanish, was live-streamed to the Southwestern Union’s Facebook and YouTube channels. The event featured Mike Tucker, speaker emeritus for Faith for Today; Claudio Consuegra, family ministries director for the North American Division; John Boston II, associate director of the

North American Division Evangelism Institute; Paolo Macena, pastor of the Ellicott City Seventh-day Adventist Church; and Pablo Flor, family, health and stewardship ministries director of the South Parana Conference in Brazil. Elton DeMoraes, vice president for ministries and men’s ministries director for the Southwestern Union, was thrilled with the response to the event. “This was our first virtual gathering for this ministry and the response has been phenomenal. This event was a catalyst for many men to see the need to have a community of fellow believers that they can rely on, not just for camaraderie, but for mentorship, fellowship, prayer

and accountability partnership. “The men who participated were so blessed and energized and they want more. Thousands have seen and viewed the event and it is still available to view on our channels. Based on the response and the very real need that we see, we will be building more events and opportunities for men to fellowship together, hopefully in-person soon, but also virtually.” Follow the Southwestern Union on Facebook and YouTube for upcoming events. Visit SouthwesternAdventist. org/Men for more information and to view the Stronger Together virtual gathering.

Not Alone

Public Campus Ministries Retreat BURLESON, TEX. – The Southwestern Union annual Public Campus Ministries Retreat was held virtually this year on Oct. 2-3. Helvis Moody, Southwestern Union youth and young adult director shared, “Public Campus Ministries assists our young people who attend public universities in starting Adventist Christian Fellowship chapters on their campuses, as well as provides a place for students to fellowship. This year, we especially want

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to remind them that they aren’t alone. Even through a pandemic, we want to let our young people know we are there for them, and even more importantly, God is there for them.” The event featured Don Keele, young adult director for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, on the topic of growing campus ministries in the midst of a pandemic; Sonya Gray Belcher, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, who ad-

dressed mental health and wellbeing for students; and Kevin Wilson, a youth and young adult pastor in San Diego, who addressed ministering on social media. Students were given the opportunity to propose ministry ideas to implement on their campus with the potential for funding from the Southwestern Union. If you are interested in joining or starting an ACF chapter or participating in PCM, visit PCM.Adventist.org.


Southwestern Union News

Church Ministries Training November 14: Equipped for Virtual Ministries

BURLESON, TEX. – The Southwestern Union invites you to a special edition ministries training session. Equipped for Virtual Ministries will feature Mark Finley, Carlton Byrd and Luis Goncalves, alongside more than 30 presenters who are experts in the virtual ministries arena. The free virtual event will be held on Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. CST/3 p.m. MST. Equipped for Ministries events usually involve packed churches with attendees enjoying in-person training seminars and sessions. While several ministries

training events were planned for 2020 across the union territory, they were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members, pastors and ministries leaders have pivoted to digital and virtual platforms to engage in various and creative ministries, and many have been surprised and blessed with church growth even amidst a pandemic through these digital platforms. Learn how to take your virtual ministry even further with training and tips

for family ministries; men’s ministries; children’s ministries; women’s ministries; elders; deacons and deaconesses; prayer ministries; communication; stewardship; treasury; community services; discipleship; small group ministries; youth ministries; health ministries; young adult ministries; and more. Registration is free but required in order to receive the viewing links. If you would like more information, email ministries@swuc.org or visit SouthwesternAdventist.org/Live.

Education Awards

Recognizing Our Outstanding Teachers and Leaders BURLESON, TEX. – Each year the Southwestern Union recognizes excellence among its nearly 350 educators from the elementary and secondary levels with the Excellence in Teaching Award. To qualify for this award, a teacher must demonstrate proficiency in a number of criteria related to teaching and learning. In appreciation for their outstanding work in teaching and demonstrated dedication to helping students in the Southwestern Union learn, these educators are awarded $500, along with a certificate and a plaque.

The Southwestern Union Education Department is pleased to present the Excellence in Teaching Award recipients for the 2019-2020 school year: Elementary Awards: Mary Womack, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference; Audrey Fabriga, Oklahoma Conference; TiAngela Williams, Southwest Region Conference; Romina Regalado and Josh Samaniego, Texas Conference; Juanita Camacho,Texico Conference. Academy Awards: Meredith Mooney, Burton Adventist Academy; Sarah Shepherd, Parkview Adventist Academy.

In 2020, a new award was presented, the Excellence in Leadership Award, which is given to administrative staff at the elementary and secondary levels. Recipients are also awarded $500, along with a certificate and a plaque. The recipient of the Excellence in Leadership Award for 2019-2020 is Mike Dale, principal of Ozark Adventist Academy.

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Southwestern Union News

Train Up a Child

March 12-14: Children’s Ministries Training and Retreat

BURLESON, TEX. – The Southwestern Union invites all children’s ministries leaders to attend its sixth annual children’s ministries training and retreat on March 1214, 2021, “Train Up a Child” at Camp Hoblitzelle in Midlothian, Tex. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all event attendees and staff will follow CDC guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. The event begins on Friday, March 12, with a fellowship and worship session. On Sabbath, attendees will be inspired by devotionals and will meditate on the Word of God together. After-

ward, seminars will be presented, as well as certification for Track 6: Ministering to Families, of the North American Division’s Certification for Children’s Ministries. On Saturday evening, there will be a celebration with food, games and prizes to let our leaders know how much we value them. On Sunday, March 14, our attendees will be provided with several resources and ideas for doing Vacation Bible School in their church during the summer. The Adventist Book Center and AdventSource will be onsite to show attendees the resources that are available.

Early bird registration of $109 opens Dec. 10 through Feb. 10. Regular registration of $129 will begin Feb. 11 and close March 5. If it is necessary to transition to a virtual event due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the registration fee will be 100 percent refunded if the attendee decides not to attend, or it will be reduced if they will be attending the virtual event. To register, please visit SouthwesternAdventist. org/Children. By Sonia Canó Children’s Ministries Director

The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists nondiscrimination policy statement for Seventh-day Adventist Schools, 2019-2020 School Year The Seventh-day Adventist Church, in all of its church schools, admits students of any race to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at its schools, and makes no discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnic background, country of origin, or gender in the administration of education policies, applications for admission, scholarship or loan programs, and extracurricular programs. A complete list of all academies and elementary/junior academies can be found at our website: SouthwesternAdventistEducation.org.

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Southwestern Union News

Faith and Trauma

November 8: Family Ministries Virtual Event BURLESON, TEX. – How does trauma affect communities of faith? How can Christians cope with loss and grief and come away with hope in Christ? Join us as we address these and more questions at the Southwestern Union Family Ministries Virtual Event: Impact of Trauma in the Faith Community on Nov. 8. at 10 a.m. CST/9 a.m. MST Join speakers Dr. H. Jean Wright II, a clinical and forensic psychologist and author of Find Strength in Your Struggle, and Alanzo Smith, D.Min., Ed.D., a licensed marriage family therapist, psy-

chotherapist and executive secretary of the Greater New York Conference, for a dynamic and interactive event open to all. This event will be streamed live on the Southwestern Union’s website and its Facebook and YouTube Channels. To find links to these channels and learn more about upcoming live events, visit SouthwesternAdventist.org/Live.

Educational Relief Fund

Financial Assistance for Schools Affected by COVID-19 BURLESON, TEX. – In addition to grappling with creating safe learning environments for students and teachers returning to schools this fall, educational institutions around the Southwestern Union have also been dealing with an approximately 14 percent drop in enrollment that has been attributed to COVID-19.

In order to assist these schools in maintaining their educational programs, the Southwestern Union voted to provide assistance through an educational relief fund. For those schools experiencing a difference in enrollment of at least 10 percent, the fund provides a one-time appropriation of $1,000 per student for

elementary schools, $1,200 per student for academies and $1,500 per student for boarding academies. In September, the Southwestern Union distributed $556,700 to 31 schools within the union territory that qualified for the fund.

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Southwestern Adventist University News

Mizpah Gate Ornament

Historical Structure Featured in Gift for Donors KEENE, TEX. – Earlier this year, Southwestern Adventist University introduced the first in a series of Christmas ornaments featuring buildings and structures from its campus. These ornaments celebrate the university’s history and are being given as gifts to individuals who commit to donate $250 a year or more. Each year, a new ornament will be added to the collection and will feature a different campus icon. The Mizpah Gate, known as the historic campus entrance, was selected to be the first structure featured as a Christmas ornament for this ongoing series. The gate is located at the south entrance of campus and was originally a gift from the Class of 1937 of what was then called Southwestern Junior College. It was marked as a Texas Historic Landmark in 2009. “I am excited to be able to give this ornament to our donors to thank them for their generosity,” shares Director of Advancement Jonathan Seitz. “I also love the idea of all of us that love

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SWAU displaying memories on our Christmas tree together every year. My hope is that when we hang this Mizpah ornament we will remember what it represents and that God really is watching over us, especially in these uncertain times.” The name Mizpah, which translates to “watchtower”, comes from the passage in Genesis 31:49 known as The Mizpah Prayer: “May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” The name serves as a reminder that God watches over students, faculty, staff and alumni whether they are on campus or far away. “As a student, I didn’t spend much time thinking about what the Mizpah Gate represents,” says Michael Agee, Southwestern Union College alum and current Department of Communication Chair. “As an older alum, and now a faculty member, I have come to think of the gate as a symbol of the life-changing work done every day on campus. The faculty and students I encountered

here years ago altered the trajectory of my life significantly. I am a different person now because of the relationships built here at SWAU. Now, as a faculty member, I am blessed to be able to build relationships with another generation of young people–young people I have come to love almost as much as my own sons. My daily prayer is that He gives me the words and opportunities to nudge my ‘kids’ along the course He has planned for their lives. ‘The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another’ has a much deeper meaning for me now as I send my kids off into the world.” The generosity of donors who share in the mission of a Christ-centered education is greatly appreciated. While Christmas is just weeks away, it’s not too late to make a difference in a studen’'s life and to reserve your ornament. Details at SWAU.edu/ornament. By Brisa Ramirez Social Media Manager


Southwestern Adventist University News

Serving the Community

Music Professor Receives Military Commission KEENE, TEX – First Lt. Steve Hubbard has been assigned as the Band Officer for the State Guard Headquarters at Camp Mabry in Austin, Tex. He teaches brass instruments at SWAU and is the conductor for Southwestern Brass and the Knights Pep Band. Hubbard inquired about the possibility of occasionally playing trumpet in a state military band. In response, he was invited to recruit, form and train a band for the Texas State Guard, as well as, head up and centralize the State Guard’s music endeavors. Hubbard was offered a

commission as an officer and accepted. “I am excited to use my musical skills for the benefit of the state of Texas,” shares Hubbard. The Texas State Guard is an elite unit of the Texas Military Department, whose primary missions are humanitarian aid and disaster relief. “We are very proud of this amazing service opportunity for one of our alumni and faculty,” shares Devon Howard, chair of the Department of Music at SWAU. By Brisa Ramirez Social Media Manager

Training Through Sports

Department of Athletics to Add Cross Country and Tennis KEENE, TEX. – Southwestern Adventist University is adding tennis and cross country to its roster of intercollegiate sports. The addition of both is in large part due to the efforts of students who participated in these in high school. “Tennis is my first love, so I’m thrilled to get to play again,” Beatrix Parilla, senior business and pre-med student, shares. Cross country meets are already taking place. Vision Modiga, a senior kinesiology student, shares, “I am more than excited that SWAU is now offering

cross country. I ran back in high school and qualified for state. That was on the Sabbath, so I did not participate.” A representative from the National Christian College Association, one of the conferences of which SWAU is a member, contacted Tyler Wooldridge, director of Athletics and Facilities, to discuss making accommodations so SWAU students can participate in meets. “There are a lot of life lessons students can learn from being part of a sports team,” shares Wooldridge. “They

learn to be punctual, organized and to work together, as well as so many other life skills.” This is why he looks forward to providing more opportunities for students to take part in athletics. SWAU is committed to providing students with a memorable college experience while teaching skills necessary for a successful life after college. Athletics training provides one more opportunity for them to learn skills that will prepare them to thrive. By Brisa Ramirez Social Media Manager

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020 17


Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

An Intentional Journey Living with Purpose in Each Season

M

y grandpa and I were buddies. That is the simplest and best way to describe it. Whenever we could be together, we were. If there was a moment to find a Dr. Pepper, we would. If there was a Dairy Queen, it had to be a Dilly-bar. I remember those moments with joy and fondness. His life journey was a season that I will never forget, for he shared his journey intentionally. Many of those intentional moments came during times where we would work together on grandpa’s 1949 Studebaker. That car was his tinker toy. It was also a vehicle for sharing the joys and values of life. Often when working on that car together, I remember he would share those values of patience; looking at life with the long view of endurance; attention to detail; and being sensitive to what and who was around you, along with many other values. He would explain, listen and reassure with the reassurance only a godly grandfather can give. I can remember the times we would enjoy watching and interacting with grandpa’s pet cardinal, Peepers. Grandpa rescued this little cardinal when he was just a baby with no mama and raised him. He was a delight to watch and listen to and observe. I can remember grandpa sharing wonderful things of nature with me because of that bird. I count it as a treasure the times grandpa would share with me some of the tragedies of life. Those sobering moments of what it was like to be an Adventist serving his country in World War II. Those anxious moments as a medic on D-Day on the beaches of Normandy, watching lives being snuffed out one by one yet clinging to Jesus. Listening to the lessons learned from that conflict. I think back and reminisce about the times he would share about Jesus, making Him seem so wonderful that I couldn’t wait to hear more about Him and accept Jesus as my Savior. Oh what joy when grandpa baptized me as a young man! I learned that Jesus was the constant focus of the journey for my grandpa. He loved Jesus. He lived his life for Jesus. He walked with Jesus. What a powerful example! I share these few things as a gentle reminder. Your life and mine are to be journeyed for a purpose. That purpose is to be building blocks for others, either to begin their own journey or to encourage someone on their journey. While you are enjoying the holidays this season, I commend to you the example of my grandpa. May you walk, live and love in such a way that someone will want to walk with Jesus. “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way; and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24 (NLT). By Richard C. Dye, Sr. President

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Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

Seeing a Need

Springdale Adventist Fellowship Outreach SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Northwest Arkansas has one of the largest populations of Marshall Islanders in the United States. Though many have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, this population has been especially vulnerable due to a multitude of reasons, and many have had to go without work for extended periods of time during this crisis. These caring, giving and family-oriented people have been a vital part of Springdale Adventist Fellowship. The church saw this need and wanted to help. The church held a food drive

and received non-perishable food as well as monetary donations. Members were able to make food baskets and deliver them to those in need. Church members stated that it was a way of giving back to the community, especially during times of uncertainty and need. The pandemic may have changed how we worship inside the walls of the church, but it is certain that the caring spirit is alive and well and reaching out in Springdale! By Danita Mullins

Miracles Abound Nothing Stops the Good News! HEBER SPRINGS, ARK. – The Heber Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church continues to grow despite the unforeseen difficulties of holding church services during a pandemic! On Sunday, July 19, 2020, the church members met at Sandy Beach Park on Greers Ferry Lake to baptize three new candidates into our church family. What a glorious day it was! At 8 a.m. with sunny blue skies, warm breezes, blue, inviting water and a short ceremony by Laurie DeWitt, Alice and Don Jacobs and Jennifer Graham were led

through the vows and a blessing by the pastor. They had all completed their baptismal studies during the pandemic, thanks to Zoom. The three then waded into the clear, inviting water for the actual baptism. Shouts of joy and thanksgiving were heard all through the park as the members celebrated these three precious individuals committing their lives to God and His church. Miracles still abound all around us every day despite what seems like chaos in our communities. We will continue

to grow and welcome ‘sheep into the fold’ as God leads us forward. May we always be faithful to His leading. It was also a fitting finish for the pastoral work of Laurie DeWitt, our pastor, as he officially retired two weeks later. By Judith Newton Laurie DeWitt baptized Jennifer Graham and Alica and Don Jacobs at Sandy Beach Park on July 19 with the Heber Springs Seventh-day Adventist church family in attendance.

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Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

Days of Creation

Conference Office Displays Creation Art SHREVEPORT, LA. – The North American Division (NAD) Office of Adventist Education has distributed a set of Nathan Green prints portraying the days of creation, a gift from the Hart Research Center, to Adventist schools and Conference education offices upon their request with a short essay. Stephen Burton, education superintendent, sent a request to the NAD, and the conference has placed the set in its large committee room. By Sylvia Downs, Communication

Planting Flags

Pathfinder Outreach Remembers Veterans MOUNTAIN VIEW, ARK. – Each year for Memorial Day, flags are respectfully placed at every veteran’s grave in cemeteries all across the United States. Due to the pandemic and many people staying home, the local Office of Veterans Affairs was in desperate need of volunteers who would plant flags at such resting places across Stone County in North Central Arkansas. The Mountain View Pathfinder Club jumped at the chance to make this one of their community service projects. The club was given flags and a list of

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veterans for three different cemeteries. As it turns out, two of the cemeteries were well known to one of the Pathfinders, who had family buried in them. She had the privilege of placing flags to honor her own great-uncles who served the country in the military. The Pathfinder club had not met in person for some weeks, so they were delighted to be able to meet again in person, serving their community in a socially distant activity in the great outdoors. Parents and siblings of the Pathfinders also participated. Club

members learned about their local history, as well as American history as they discussed the various wars. They also learned the protocol for flag placements. Stones were studied, sometimes examined closely with use of fingers, to try to determine names and dates as they searched for the right graves. The Pathfinders found this community service project a solemn activity, but a very enjoyable one. They all agreed that they wanted to do it again the following year. By Esther M. Doss


Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

A Prayer for Molly-Jo

Nothing is Too Small or Too Hard for God

CONWAY, ARK. – She was a little black dog, lost, cold and apparently starving. We named her Molly-Jo and she captured my heart. Unfortunately, I was only visiting my mother in Arkansas, and had to return to Australia. I began the task of filling out forms, phoning government departments, doing vet checks and health tests, but the day came for us to leave, and the paperwork was not ready and Molly had to stay behind. Mom had a group of “prayer warriors” from her church in Conway and my church in Australia prayed for my

plans. I returned to the U.S. to take Molly home, but a complication arose, because Molly had been bitten by a tick that carried Ehrlichia Canis. All plans stopped until her blood work was clear. I laid my plans before God and prayed every step of the way. In the final week that I was scheduled to be in the U.S., one test could bring everything to a halt. The government vet for Australia told me Molly had a one percent chance of passing. My mother and I fasted and prayed. This was the day I knew God would say “yes” or “no.” One minute

before closing time, they called, saying there was a discrepancy and the test had to be redone. The next day they called to say that Molly’s blood work was clear! The staff at the clinic were shocked and thrilled. One of the ladies said: “I had given up on prayer because I never saw God work in my life. I never saw how prayer worked, but this has encouraged and inspired me to never give up.” God displayed His power by working a miracle, but no prayer is too small or too hard for God. By Victoria Greenwood

A Parade Celebration

Slidell Church Recognizes Oldest Member SLIDELL, ARK. – On July 26, Elsie Gelbke had her 96th birthday with a surprise car parade, organized by her daughter, Susan Durr, with members from the Slidell Seventh-day Adventist Church. Elsie is the oldest member of the Slidell church. She is a former member of the New Orleans First Seventh-day Adventist Church. She worked for Higgins Industries in New Orleans during World War II. She currently lives in Abita Springs, La. Elsie and Susan thank all who participated. By Vernella Rogers

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020 21


Oklahoma Conference News

Change for the Better

God’s Purpose for My Life in Each Season

I

f we live long enough, we learn that life is always moving forward to new experiences, new events and new seasons. Although we typically like things to stay the same and to get comfortable with our routines, we soon find out the truth of the wise man Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3. He wrote those familiar words, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” He is stressing that all things in this world of sin are temporary and have a time or season. No aspect of our lives is permanent. However, the writer also tells us that every season has a purpose. We know that we learn different lessons in each season of life and they all have their purposes. But I believe there is an overriding purpose that all other purposes are pointing toward. I believe this can be found in Romans 8:28 and 29. I believe that it shows us God’s ultimate purpose. Let’s read it and listen to it. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Often, we stop with the thought that whatever is happening in our life at the present time is working for our good. And usually when we quote the verse, something challenging is happening and we are struggling. Then we pause and think, this must be happening for my good, and it gives us peace and patience to wait upon God. Reading further, however, the last part of verse 28 gives us another insight about things working for our good. Paul adds the words, “called according to His purpose.” In other words, our life events are being orchestrated for God’s bigger purpose, which overshadows our smaller perspective. But it’s actually in verse 29 that I believe we see God’s ultimate purpose and the reason for the seasons and the changes in our lives. It reads, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….” I believe Paul is telling us that all things, all seasons of life, all circumstances that we go through are being worked out by God for our good, for His purpose, which is to shape us into the image, or character, of Christ. He is working in and through our lives to make us like Jesus. That’s the ultimate reason for the seasons and changes we go through in life. The word “perspective” comes to mind. When I realize that God’s purpose for my life in each season while I’m walking with Him is to allow Him to use my life experiences to change me for the better. John writes in Revelation 14:4, “These are they who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” and Revelation 14:1 says, “They have the Father’s name written on their foreheads.” Those who follow Jesus until He comes have God’s name or character in their mind and lives. That is my prayer as I go through the seasons and changes of my life. How about you? By James Shires, President

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020 23


Oklahoma Conference News

Schools Reopen

In-person Learning at Oklahoma Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY – The 2020-2021 school year started off with a lot of questions. What will this year look like with COVID-19? How will we keep the students and teachers safe? To mask or not to mask? How often do we need to disinfect everything? What happens if someone in the school tests positive? Educators felt like they were facing the impossible. Beginning in July, we prayed, planned and prepared to open our schools, all the while fighting thoughts of doubt, uncertainty and even helplessness. We

felt as though it would be impossible to reopen our schools. Through much prayer, even though we didn’t have all of the answers and we weren’t sure of the path we were being led on, all eight schools in our conference were able to complete plans that follow all applicable government guidelines and reopened for in-person learning. All students, staff and visitors are being screened before entering buildings; social distancing is being observed; desks that need to be close have teacher-made clear barriers; hand sanitizer is being used and every-

Financial Blessing

thing within reason is being disinfected. Students are happy to be back amongst friends and teachers are happy to be back in their classrooms. Our teachers are able to teach and model what it means to have Jesus in their hearts. There are still a lot of unanswered questions, but we put our faith in God to lead us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” By Tim Kripps, Superintendent

College Student Gives Thanks for Scholarship STILLWATER, OKLA. – Matthew Hansen, a member of the Edmond Seventh-day Adventist Church, is a student at Oklahoma State University (OSU), and he recently received a scholarship from the university’s Ferguson College of Agriculture. Hansen is also active in the public campus ministries and the Adventist Campus Fellowship chapter of OSU. Hansen was featured in a local newspaper article about the scholarship program, and gave the following testimony: "I am extremely grateful to have the

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opportunity to pursue higher education...God has blessed me with more than I could ever imagine. “Going into college, I was concerned about what the financial burden would be, yet God has continued to lift that burden, which has allowed me to continue college debt free...They have supported me through every step, I am extremely blessed and will be forever grateful.”


Oklahoma Conference News

Area Kids Camp A Different Kind of Summer ALVA, OKLA. – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. So many new young people had signed up for summer camp. So many of them had already expressed a desire to be baptized. Visions of baptisms at Wewoka Lake danced with delight through our minds…and then we got the call: summer camp was canceled. It started with one person who asked, “But what if we did something else instead?” Our pastor’s wife, Ashley Alipoon, offered to take all the summer camp kids to the water park. The idea was a catalyst that lit up a whole line of ideas of what could be done with our youth in place of summer camp. A list of local state park activities was

created and a schedule was made. It all happened so quickly that in the same message to inform parents that summer camp had been canceled, we were able to also inform them that alternative youth activities had been planned. The beauty of this plan? More youth were able to go to these activities than had signed up for summer camp! Each wanted to bring a friend. We felt like Peter when the fish were so numerous that the nets began to tear. It was an act of faith and a real challenge just to find enough cars and drivers to take the youth from one activity to the next. In total, about 18 youth took part, and this was after turning some youth away due to a lack of available cars and drivers. On day one, we dug crystals at Salt Plains State Park. On day two, our

pastor paid for all the youth to go to the Woodward water park. On day three, we toured the cavern at Alabaster Caverns State Park. On day four, we hiked across Gloss Mountains State Park. And on day five, we took a mission day for the youth to help Parkview Adventist Academy get ready for the school year. And the results of it all? On Tuesday of the next week, 11 youth came together to study for a baptism Bible study class. God’s plans were better than our plans. His ways were higher than our ways. God knew the plans He had for our youth, plans for good and not evil, to give them hope and eternal life. (Isaiah 55:8-9, Jeremiah 29:11.) May God’s plans succeed! (Philippians 1:6.) By Gabrielle Simpson

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020 25


Oklahoma Conference News

A Different Approach

Adventist Fellowship Growing Amidst Challenges TULSA – How does a church grow during a pandemic? This crisis has changed how we minister and have church. At Adventist Fellowship we had to leave our comfort zone and go forward with a different approach. We began to livestream our services, host Zoom meetings and increase our social media presence with exercise classes, devotionals and prayer meetings. We met outside of the four walls of the church and took our service to the members’ front yards and parking lots.

Our focus began to shift to ministry outside of the Sabbath. The pastoral team became intentional in meeting our members’ families, friends and co-workers. The members began introducing the pastoral team to their circle of influence. As a result, we began meeting, hanging out and studying the Bible with them. In June, Nic Coutet, pastor, and Karol Mosebay, pastor, baptized 15 people. We are thankful to God, our awesome leaders, our wonderful members and our entire team. By Karol Mosebay, Pastor

Blessed by Surplus

Oklahoma Academies Receive Microscopes OKLAHOMA CITY – Both Parkview and Tulsa Adventist Academy were blessed to have received surplus microscopes from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, thanks to the assistance of a Parkview Adventist Academy parent. Ira Farley, whose children attend Parkview, was able to connect the Oklahoma Conference Education Department with the individual in charge of releasing surplus items at the Department of Health. Through this contact, I was able to make a request for microscopes, and they were able to donate a total of

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10 high-quality microscopes for our two academies. Six of the microscopes are Nikon and the other four are Eagles, and would have been difficult for our schools to obtain without having been donated. These microscopes will be a great addition to our secondary science programs. I was able to deliver the five microscopes to Parkview, and both the teacher and students were excited and looked forward to being able to use them. Donations such as these make a huge difference in the education of our

children, and we are grateful for those who chose to bless them in this way. If you work for a business that works with science or technology-related equipment that continually updates their equipment and is looking to update, please contact the education department of the Oklahoma Conference to see if any of our eight schools can put your surplus to use. Thank you for continuing to keep our children and schools in your thoughts and prayers! By Tim Kripps Superintendent


Oklahoma Conference News

Quarantined at Camp Wewoka Woods Staff Use Time to Serve

WEWOKA, OKLA. – After a week of staff training, our summer camp staff were able to serve one week during the family day camp; however, they were not able to follow through with plans to hold Junior and Teen camp as originally planned due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in our state. This did not stop our camp staff from continuing their mission to serve the camp. Since our staff had already spent more than two weeks quarantined at the camp, they figured it would be better to spend the rest of the time together at the camp rather than quarantined alone at home. For the next 10 days, most of our staff were able to stay and take on many projects around the camp. Some of the projects included striping the parking

lot in front of the lodge, major clearing of the horse area/trails behind the barn, repairing many of the auditorium chairs, leveling out and clearing the new lake trail and more. It was Diana Gamas’ first year working at Wewoka Woods. “This year was my first year working at Wewoka Woods. Since I was little I had always wanted to come work at the camp. I was assistant director for the first two weeks and later on I was moved to the kitchen and working outside in the trails. Working in the kitchen was really fun and working outside on the trails was also a blessing to me. This year was not what I expected in general, but even though we could not do kids camps, I enjoyed every second of working at Wewoka Woods.” Second-year staffer Jeremy Perez

expected to be a camp counselor and was disappointed that camp could not continue, but said, “God has a reason for everything. I grew closer to my friends and we got to complete so many projects around Wewoka Woods to make it look even better! Looking back now, I can tell that it was the best decision for us to close down the camp, save some money and complete some projects so that in return we can have a great 2021 Summer Camp. I don’t have any regrets staying the last few weeks!” We are grateful for the energy and effort our young people have put into making Wewoka Woods Adventist Center look better. By Daniel Ortega Youth Director

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020 27


Southwest Region Conference News

Not Defined by the Season Facing Challenges Rooted in God and His Word

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f ever there were unforgettable words spoken by a leader, they were the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt after an unprovoked surprise attack by the Empire of Japan on Pearl Harbor. The year was 1941 and the nation stood stunned, caught off guard. History records a leader who was prepared to address the moment and whose speech is one of the greatest given by a leader in the middle of a crisis, especially when he said: “December 7, 1941. A date which will live in infamy.” Two recent events will also be remembered in infamy. The first is the COVID-19 pandemic spread all over the world, with thousands dying and millions infected. The second is the senseless killing of Black and Brown men and women in this country. What season are we in? Is this the season that opens up the door for more fatal pandemics? Is this the season when physicians will have to make the choice of who lives and who dies? Is this the season where we will eventually be afraid to leave our houses? Racial unrest. Police violence. High unemployment. Death in the streets and the rise of hate groups. Is this the season where a person can be killed and murdered and the murderer goes free? Is this the season where Christians, who are supposed to be the drum majors for justice and the voice of reason and the conscience of America, are silent and controlled by a political ideology instead of the core values of Christianity? Is this the season when we are witnessing the muting of evangelicals and conservative Christians? Yes, this is a year that will live in infamy. A year that our children and grandchildren will talk about in classrooms. Documentaries and movies will be made about this season. The Bible makes it clear: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV). The moment was big, but God gave Roosevelt the wisdom to be bigger, to look beyond the moment, to challenge and encourage Americans to step up and not be overwhelmed by the moment, nor allow it to define them as a people. There is a season for everything, but how will you react in this season? Will you be like Roosevelt, interpreting the season instead of blending in with the season? Defining the season instead of allowing the season to define you? As Christians, we have to be bigger than the moment. Our spirituality and our trust in God must always be the motivating factors in how we approach every season we face in our world and personal lives. Seasons come and seasons go, but our Christian stability should never be influenced by what we hear on the news or what comes out of Congress, Senate and the White House. Our season should only be influenced by what comes out of the Word of God. This is a season for praying, fasting and drawing closer to the God who is bigger than every season. By Calvin L. Watkins, Sr., President

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Southwest Region Conference News

Southwest Region Conference News

March on New Orleans

Ephesus Speaks Out Against Social Injustices

NEW ORLEANS – On July 11, the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church orchestrated a peaceful local protest in recognition of violence against Black and Brown communities. Ephesus has always stood for socioeconomic issues and refuses to stay silent on matters that affect its community. The community joined the church as Harold Goodloe, pastor, and other leaders peacefully demonstrated from the church to LaSalle Street in New Orleans. A trail of cars with signs followed the march as a police escort led protesters to a park where a

rally was held. With COVID-19, the church understood the importance of being safe. Masks were worn, hand sanitizer was distributed and social distancing guidelines were enforced in the outdoor pavilion. Informative speeches from local business leaders, state representatives, district judges and others shared of the work being done within the city to secure equality for Black and Brown communities. The Ephesus church firmly believes that Christians cannot and should not stay silent during times of social and economic injustices.

With the help of local communities, many plans are underway for Ephesus to serve. They have taken steps to boost voter registration. They plan to supply financial and family counseling. They plan to provide educational seminars for mentorships and small businesses. Services such as food distribution and health screenings are also in the works. The Ephesus church continues to work towards better advancements for people of color and provide its community with opportunities to excel. By David Haywood

Celebrating 30 Years

Singles Ministries Holds Virtual Labor Day Retreat ATHENS, TEXAS – The conference’s singles ministries held its 30th annual retreat as a “virtual zoom Labor Day retreat” instead of at its usual location of Athens, Texas. The theme was “Singles Intentionally Serving Jesus.” Alfred Jones, pastor, began the weekend with Friday night’s “A Made-up Mind,” on how we have capabilities beyond measures when we allow God to use us. Sabbath morning with Billy Green, pastor, encouraged us not to feel guilty in designating time for ourselves. Sabbath afternoon featured Michael Kelly, pastor, on the need

to divorce ourselves from certain behaviors before getting into relationships. On Saturday night, physical therapist Tiffany King, PT, DPT, demonstrated “How to Release Stress in the Body.” On Sunday, Jones presented “How to Live a Wholesome Christian Single Life.” We concluded with Nathan Madrid, pastor, and “What Does God Says about True Love?” As the weekend ended, we agreed that meals and outreach were the only missing elements in this retreat. By Evelyn M. Edwards

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 29


Southwest Region Conference News

Finding Courage

Abuse Prevention Emphasis Month

DALLAS – The Southwest Region Conference Women’s Ministries Director, Anysia Archibald, along with Ruth Watkins, pastors and volunteers used their God-given talents during the month of August to present to women and men, girls and boys of the Southwest Region vital information about recognizing and preventing abuse. August is the month that the Southwest Region Conference’s women’s ministries department sets aside each year as Abuse Prevention Emphasis Month, attempting to make known to all who suffer abuse, whether physical, mental or spiritual, that there is a God who hears, who cares and who is making a way out for them. The theme for this year was “Finding Courage Beyond the Veil of Darkness.” Presentations were broadcast every Sunday in August and in a special program on Sabbath, Aug. 22, on the Conference YouTube and Facebook channels. The presentations began with Michelle Mota, pastor, sharing with attendees that God can provide a king where He desires. Esmie G. Branner, Ph.D., shared her experience about when we turn from God and walk in our own way, God is still there in the midst of our mess making a way out. Kristen Davis-John, Ph.D., and Rose Gosin, MBA, MPM, DBA,PMP, shared the types of abuse and how they affect

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the abused as well as the abuser. They shared manifestations of a crushed spirit, red flags that warn us that a person is in need of professional help. They also outlined seven steps to victory. These steps were: 1. Facing your problem 2. Understanding the source of the problem 3. Confronting the problem 4. Taking responsibility for yourself 5. Viewing the abuser from God’s perspective 6. Loving unconditionally (Proverbs 10:12) 7. Practicing a powerful prayer life (1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18) Merkita Mosley, South Atlantic Conference treasurer, shared the turmoil of self-inflicted abuse and that we all are sinners. A special program was broadcast on Sabbath evening with Claudette Andrews, pastor, who shared the life of Tamar, who was raped, but not cast down. She continued to live courageously and overcame the trauma that entered her life. Evelyn Fordham Goodman, wife of Keith Goodman, pastor, closed out the month with the topic “He Sees Me.” She shared the story of a servant’s dilemma. Hagar, who was trying to please her mistress, was placed in an awkward situation. But she cried out to Jesus,

who hears and answers our prayers. He covered her like a shepherd. He watched over her, protected her and sustained her. He will do the same for you. Music was offered beautifully and professionally by all who sung, supporting the theme and the messages such as “He’s been Faithful,” “He’ll Find a Way,” “God Provides,” “Because of Who You Are,” “My Chains are Gone/ Amazing Grace,” and “We Welcome You, Holy Spirit in This Place,” just to name a few. The speakers all reminded us that we need to keep God before us, in us and in our actions. We do matter and Jesus cares about us all. The presentations can be viewed on the Southwest Region Conference Facebook page and Southwest Region Media YouTube channel. If you can identify with any of the Biblical characters spoken of during the month of August or the manifestations mentioned by Davis-John and Gosin, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233. Take courage, there is help for you. By Gwendolyn L. Garrison


Southwest Region Conference News

A Family Healed

COVID-19 Hard at Work in One Family BATON ROUGE, LA. – It began on Sunday, April 5, when Lyn Hakeem received a phone call from her daughter, Tanisha Howard, who had tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier, recalling what she had learned about the virus and feeling really badly, Howard had her father take her to a hospital, where a triage staff determined her need for more testing, ultimately resulting in her admission to the hospital. A high temperature, coughing and difficulty breathing immediately qualified her for the virus. Howard’s pre-existing cellulitis had broken down her immune system, contributing to her condition which resembled the flu, but more severe with labored breathing. “Like others, once hospitalized, even though I could have no visitors, I learned to rely on God and the prayers

of and daily phone calls from my mother and her friends, T. Ron Weegar, pastor, my church, a really caring nurse plus strangers I probably will never meet.” After two weeks, Howard’s doctors felt she was ready for a stint in rehab in another hospital. “However, on the morning of my daughter’s transfer, our faith again was tested,” said Hakeem. Howard’s oxygen level kept dropping. Double pneumonia had set in, prompting an admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She acknowledges having faith, but fear from ICU stories took over. In ICU she was intubated, coma induced and attached to full-body life-saving apparatuses. As her condition improved, her doctor began the gradual withdrawal of her breathing equipment. Although not 100 percent, after four

days shy of a month in the hospital, Howard was discharged to her home, where she would continue limited treatments. Her response to her ordeal was that “God saved me; I don’t know why, but He did and I am eternally grateful.” An irony in it all was that throughout Howard’s bout with COVID-19, her mother, Lyn, and brother, Tony, who resides in Alabama, both tested positive for the virus. Said Howard, “Never doubt the promises of our Lord that He spoke to the Prophet Isaiah in chapter 43:1-2. We may have to endure faith-testing trials, but the beauty is that the One who sends the test helps us to pass the exam.” By Evelyn M. Edwards

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 31


Texas Conference News

In the Waiting

The Hardest Part Is Waiting for God’s Plan to Unfold

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here is a beautiful song written and recorded some 20 years ago entitled “In the Waiting.” The lyrics share. “Pain—The gift nobody longs for, still it comes. And, somehow leaves us stronger when it’s gone away. Pray—I try and pray for Your will to be done, but I confess it’s never fast enough for me. It seems the hardest part is waiting on You when what I really want is just to see Your hand move. I want a peace beyond my understanding. I want to feel it fall like rain in the middle of my hurting. I want to feel Your arms as they surround me and let me know that it’s okay. To be here in this place resting in the peace that only comes in the waiting…” In the waiting. In God’s infinite wisdom, fully knowing what it takes to grow a woman, grow a man as He ordains the “seasons” of life. I grew up in beautiful Denver, Colo. I haven’t lived there for some 41 years, yet I distinctly remember the majesty of the aspen trees, especially in the fall with their golden tones. It is easy to overlook the process that brought them to that moment of glory. When fall ends and the frigid blasts of winter hit them just a short time later, they lose all of their beauty and become barren. Then comes springtime and new life is generated, ultimately producing lush green leaves. The summer follows, granting them plenty of sunshine to strengthen their core and pump hidden nutrients through their branches into the leaves. Finally, the fall comes, their moment of glory—albeit for a short time. For everything in life, there is a season. Many spend a lifetime waiting in futility for happiness, joy and fulfillment based on the circumstances of their life. It never comes, because this life is unable to grant us that type of permanence in joy. Profound joy that no one or nothing can snatch from you is found only in the life-giver, Christ, alone. Greater is He that is in us, than anything that is in this world. I leave you with this pointed thought from scripture found in Isaiah 30:18 (NKJV); “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!” Yield not to the temptation to orchestrate a “speed-up” in God’s Plan. Remember, speed increases the impact of the crash. He knows what’s best for you and your life. Trust Him! By Carlos J. Craig, President

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2020 33


Texas Conference News

The Hidden Cantata

God Saved the Music for Such A Time As This BURLESON, TEX. – In the summer of 1974, my 15-year-old brother, William E. Martin, “Bill” as we call him, began to write songs about the Three Angels’ Messages for his youth singing group. Inspired by the book of Revelation and Ellen G. White’s writings, he and I would practice his songs, fine-tuning the music, harmony and lyrics. Our dad, Norman Martin, was senior pastor of the Houston Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in Houston, Tex., at the time. Bill said that much of his motivation came from very supportive church members who were eager to support the young people. After two months, the cantata was finally complete. Bill and I were eager to teach our music group the new selections. Unfortunately, though, it was not meant to be, as our dad accepted a call to pastor a church in South Bend, Ind. Before we left, though, Bill recorded his finished work on an 8-track tape and then packed the tape and the book of his handwritten lyrics into a box. For 46 years, the 8-track tape continued to move from place to place and the songs laid dormant…until 2019. My husband, Dan, the Texas Conference English Evangelism director, and I were part of an evangelism team meeting at the Southwestern Union Conference in Burleson, Tex., with conference evangelists from the Arkansas-Louisiana,

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Oklahoma, Southwest Region and Texico conferences. We were discussing the yearly Small Groups material developed by this group. Each conference takes a turn creating the material for the entire Southwestern Union. The Texas Conference’s year was 2020. Dan immediately suggested our topic would be the Three Angels’ Messages. He would write the lessons and gather a young adult group to record the discussions along with “on the street” interviews. Who doesn’t love to see young adults talking about the Lord? I felt this was going to be great! A few weeks later, Ismael Castillo, Texas Conference associate director for Hispanic Ministries and Spanish Evangelism, shared that they would like to add some songs to the DVD in English and Spanish and wondered if we had any suggestions of songs that could be used. He said his brother was the music chair at the University of Montemorelos in Montemorelos, Nuevo León, Mexico, and they had a recording studio that could add instrumentation and voices. Instantly, I thought about the Three Angels’ Messages cantata my brother wrote years ago and wondered if he still had it. After talking with Bill, we discovered that he had the words but did not write the guitar chords out for each song, and neither of us could remember much of the tunes—only bits and pieces. But, he

said, “I do have the 8-track tape recording that I’ve kept for years.” It was now my mission to find a local place that could transfer the music to a CD. I wasn’t about to send it by snail mail and risk losing this tape. Thankfully, I was able to find a place. Bill wrote the chords out. I relearned the music and recorded six songs on my phone. They were then sent to the University of Montemorelos singers. They added instrumentation and voices and translated several of the songs. My brother, Bill, was so happy that his music could be used for the Lord. He didn’t charge anything and the songs could be tweaked however the musicians saw fit. He was so accommodating— Praise the Lord! The Texas Conference Evangelism Department now has Small Group materials on a DVD with a young adult discussion, “on the street” interviews and songs for groups to sing along that go nicely with the lessons Dan wrote. How it all came together was a huge miracle! You can find “God’s Final Message” with lessons and videos in English and Spanish at SouthwesternAdventist.org/ evangelism. May God bless you as you use these materials to help others learn about “God’s Final Message.” By Lois Serns


Texas Conference News

Seasons of Ministry

Through Each Season, God Provides A Bountiful Harvest TYLER, TEX. – Carl F. George, noted church growth consultant, once shared that “Seventh-day Adventists have a highly mobile clergy.” As I started my ministry, moving from one church to another, it was hard leaving behind church friends and also unfinished plans. Later, I learned that the Holy Spirit was present wherever I was going and He would help the churches flourish. In my first season of ministry, I gave Bible studies to interests and invited evangelists to have meetings in my district. They put on three meetings, about

one a year. We were blessed with several baptisms each time. In my second season, I added evangelistic meetings in which the laymen presented the topics, with Bible studies given by members. I also added pastoral counseling with couples and others who wanted a helping hand. In my third season, I sought to share Jesus more effectively in my sermons. I integrated the lay leaders as a key part of ministry, which enhanced both outreach and in-reach in a multi-church district. I appreciate my leaders who

carry on the ministry when I am not able to be present. In my fourth season, I added mentoring young pastors, so they can carry on the work of ministry even better. During each season, God, through His Holy Spirit, continued to provide a harvest of souls for His kingdom. Claiming Acts 1:8, God gives power for witnessing through His Holy Spirit, to a pastor, a professional evangelist or a lay evangelist, in all districts and in all states and in all the seasons of ministry! By Richard Rose, Pastor

A Unique Season

God Wants Us to Be Content in All Seasons ARLINGTON, TEX. – In Ecclesiastes 3:1, Solomon points out, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” We are in the midst of an extremely challenging and unique season. It is a season not measured by the weather or the calendar but by the spread of a novel coronavirus. While we can count down the days until the heat of summer or the cold of winter will break, we don’t know when or how this season will end. For many, this season has been a time of fear, sorrow, sickness and death.

When this season started back in March (which feels like years ago), I became very frustrated as it quickly upended much of my routine. As time went on, I realized that instead of being frustrated in this season of social distancing, mask wearing, positivity rates and flattening the curve, I could be content because it gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my family, learn new skills and recognize that church is much more than a building. It taught me to be more patient, less focused on trying to control things I

can’t control and at peace in enjoying the present moment. The greatest lesson to come out of this season is to be content in the present season, as unpleasant as it may be. In this season, God had some refining to do and lessons to teach me. I hope that by the time you are reading this, the season we are in will be in its final throes and we will look forward to a new, more pleasant season and be even closer to that unending season of eternity. By Tom Grove, Pastor

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2020 35


Giving AT ITS BEST

This holiday season

Each gift to

give gifts that have eternal value

Texas Vision benefits

Education Evangelism

Lake Whitney Ranch Building Projects

Thank you for supporting Texas Vision Texas Vision gifts can be given through your local church or online at AdventistGiving.org or through a trust or endowment with the Texas Conference Planned Giving & Trust Services Department

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817.790.2255 x2113 | treasury@txsda.org | TexasAdventist.org


A Bucket of

Gold

Buckets full of cleaning supplies are like gold to those disinfecting their homes after a natural disaster

Give to those in need Text Bucket to 91999 Online AdventistGiving.org By mail Texas ACS | PO Box 35 | Keene, TX 76059 On a tithe envelope marked Texas Adventist Community Services acs@txsda.org | 817.641.7679 | Texas-ACS.org

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2020 37


Texico Conference News

Living Intentionally

Setting the Course and Focusing on Him

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hat does it mean to live intentionally? If you had asked me that question when I first started out as a pastor, I would have probably given you a generic answer like “it’s about being intentional in every area of your life.” We hear this often, but what does that really mean? What does it mean to be intentional in our Christian walk with the Lord? Living an intentional life will likely require us to step out of our comfort zone, become more aware of our actions and make thoughtful decisions based on what we understand is important to God. Rather than focusing on our selfish desires, living intentionally is about maintaining a focus on who God has called us to be. By being intentional about our relationship with God, we will choose to discontinue our involvement with activities and events that present a distraction to our relationship with God. Living intentionally is a focused mindset that actively seeks to live a life in Jesus Christ. When we live with intention, our focus shifts to the things that are truly valuable. Living intentionally is about simplifying our lives and tuning out the extra noise so we can focus on the things that are truly important. With time, our interest in some of the things we once considered important no longer holds our attraction. We were created in God’s image, and as we continue to focus on Him throughout all the seasons of our lives, we will become more and more like Him. Our hearts and characters will reflect the One who made us and who is even now transforming us into His likeness. When we focus on God and cultivate a daily relationship with Him in an intentional way, and focus less on ourselves, our lives will be enhanced. Intentional living is like using a GPS system as it identifies our path and shows us how to make course corrections so we continue to move in the direction we should go. In the Message version of the Bible, Ephesians 5:10 reads “Figure out what pleases the Lord, and then do it.” When we understand what pleases God, we will be able to more clearly identify the pathway that He has laid out for us. Intentional living helps us set that course for our lives rather than just wandering aimlessly along. May God bless us as we seek to know Him better and then walk faithfully with Him. By Lee-Roy Chacon President

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Texico Conference News

Blessed Despite Struggles

Hobbs Small Group Leads New Member to Baptism HOBBS, N.M. – Josefina Bonilla Holguin was a committed Christian. She sang in her church’s choir, wrote hymns and gave classes at her local church. “I had a love for God and a desire to serve Him since early in my life,” Holguin says. Despite her zeal for God, Josefina’s life has not been easy. For most of it, Josefina has been plagued with illness and struggles. In 2007, she had a stroke which left her unable to walk and talk. In 2015, Josefina fell down some stairs and broke her teeth and ribs. Earlier this year, she was involved in an accident in which a piece of asbestos ceiling fell on her head. These are just some of her challenges; nevertheless, her strong faith in God led her to attend a small group with members from the Hobbs Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church. The

group was hosted by Maricela Aranda and Gilberto Santarosa, who led the members each week as they prayed and studied together. Josefina very much appreciated the blessing of participating in the group. “Josefina was very eager to study the Bible,” said Santarosa. “One of the things that surprised me was that she already had a lot of Biblical knowledge, so it didn’t take long for her to decide to accept what she was learning and be baptized.” To the members’ dismay, Josefina was hospitalized two days before her planned baptism. However, that did not deter her, and she made every effort to get better so she could be released in time for her baptism. Praise God, on Aug. 1, Josefina made it to the baptismal

waters. Her friends from the group and the entire Hobbs Spanish church congregation rejoiced at seeing Josefina take the most important step of her life. With newfound strength, Josefina shared her testimony, expressed her gratitude to the members and worshiped God through her favorite hymn, which she sang with all her heart. Today, Josefina continues to fellowship with her church family and is enjoying good health. Most importantly, her heart is joyful and she has begun to compose poems again for the Lord. We look forward to her reciting her poetry as she shares the gifts the Lord has bestowed upon her. By Jonathan Gonzalez Pastor

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020 39


Texico Conference News

An Answered Prayer

Baptism at Albuquerque Rio Grande Spanish Church

ALBUQUERQUE – As a pastor, one of the most rewarding things is to be able to witness a mother’s joy and see the tears in her eyes when her child enters the baptismal waters. For Maria Monserrat, it took many years of patience and constant prayer to finally see her daughter’s life transformed. When her daughter, Margarita, was 14 years old, she was baptized in a Seventh-day Adventist church in Mexico. But sadly, like so many young people at that age, she was enticed by what the world had to offer and she drifted from God’s path. The weekends were the worst for Maria. “The pain and desperation I felt in my heart were indescribable,” she said. “I would see Margarita get ready to go out and party and I didn’t know if, or when, she was coming back.” The nights were long and the prayers were profound. Somehow the weeks turned to years, and Maria’s prayers for her daughter to come back to the Lord seemed as if they were not being answered. However, I recently visited Maria and Margarita in their home, and I learned that things had changed. Margarita shared that one particular time when she was at a nightclub, things began to feel a little different. She noticed that she wasn’t having fun and she felt so uncomfortable that she decided to go home. Her friends were

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surprised and tried to convince her to stay, but Margarita was not interested. When she got home, Maria was waiting up for her but was surprised to see her daughter back so early. Margarita told her mother what she was feeling in her heart and that she had decided to stop living the life she was living and turn her heart to God. As Margarita shared her story with me, I told her of my past addiction to drugs and alcohol. I shared how God had freed me from the desire of ever wanting to go back to that part of my life. We cannot fight against Satan’s attacks alone, but I reassured Margarita we can overcome them through the redemptive power of Christ’s blood. That day Margarita decided to take Bible studies, and it was not long before she desired to be baptized. On Aug. 22, the Albuquerque Rio Grande Spanish Seventh-day Church rejoiced as they witnessed Margarita renewing her commitment to the One who shed His blood for her salvation. Heaven also rejoiced, for Luke 15:7 tells us, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” It was truly rewarding to see Maria’s heart rejoice. I am reminded of God’s

faithful promises in Isaiah 49:25: “I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.” There is no doubt that God answers the prayers of the faithful. I encourage any parent who is praying for their child to consider the words of Ellen G. White, written in The Signs of the Times (July 1, 1886). She wrote: “With joy unutterable, parents [will] see the crown, the robe, the harp, given to their children. The days of hope and fear are ended. The seed sown with tears and prayers may have seemed to be sown in vain, but their harvest is reaped with joy at last. Their children have been redeemed.” By Manuel Rodriguez Pastor


Texico Conference News

A Quest for Truth

Mother and Daughter Led to Big Spring Church BIG SPRING, TEX. – When Daisy Ochoa was 13 years old, she was drawn in by “endtime” prophecy topics while watching Amazing Facts and other evangelists on 3ABN. These programs piqued her interest to learn the truth in God’s Word. Daisy, now 20, believed what she learned in her younger days. She was especially convicted about the truth about the Sabbath and baptism by immersion. This led Daisy to follow the call of the Holy Spirit and seek more truth. As she began sharing her newfound faith with others, Daisy’s excitement was contagious, and it inspired her mother, Olga. Olga had always felt God’s presence in her life and felt the need to have a relationship with God. Although Olga lacked the spiritual support of family and friends, she independently took her

children to church. When Olga saw her daughter’s enthusiasm to know more about God, Olga knew this was the spiritual support she was looking for. Together, Daisy and Olga found their way to the Big Spring Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although it is located 90 miles from their hometown of Colorado City, Tex., nothing could stop them from getting to know more about God and sharing Him with others. After several months of Bible studies, Daisy and Olga were baptized at the Big Spring Seventh-day Adventist Church on June 13, 2020. “It was a glorious day for them to publicly express their love for the Lord,” said the Big Spring church’s pastor, Abner Razon. Olga and Daisy were baptized during the Sabbath morning

worship service and were accompanied by other family members who came to support and witness the event. Moving forward, Olga and Daisy plan to get involved in ministry. Olga would like to participate in church activities and work in any capacity for God. Daisy senses her life has a deeper meaning and eagerly wants to see where the Holy Spirit will lead her. Please join the Big Spring church as it continues to pray for this mother and daughter team as they embark on their spiritual journey and help spread the good news of Jesus Christ. By Angela Cruz

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2020 41


Texico Conference News

Hope Delivered

Rio Rancho Church Distributes Literature to Neighbors RIO RANCHO, N.M. – On Aug. 23, the Rio Rancho Seventh-day Adventist Church set out to witness in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Putting faith and courage into action, a number of members reached out to their surrounding neighborhood in a systematic way. They assembled Adventist literature along with other inspirational tracts in plastic door hangers. They also included health information with COVID-19 safety guidelines. The group carefully mapped out the area, counted the homes and assigned streets to those participating.

Wearing masks to allay concerns from neighbors, they made no direct contact as they distributed the material. The outing was done in three phases and by the end, materials were delivered to more than 400 homes in the Rio Rancho community. The Rio Rancho church truly believes that “every soul is priceless, and every opportunity is precious.” The members have faith that God will give us creative minds during these stressful times to bring hope and encouragement to our communities. By Robert Gardner

“Comparte Amor”

North Valley Church’s Youth Share Love and Encouragement ALBUQUERQUE – “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35. This fall, the youth and young adults from the Albuquerque North Valley Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church started “Comparte Amor” or “Share Love,” a new initiative in which they will set out to share God’s love and encouragement with friends, family and neighbors. The youth intend to visit elderly or sick members and reach out to those who have not been to church for a while. They also plan to perform acts of service like

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cleaning yards for neighbors or buying groceries for those in need. “The idea behind the project is to share kindness with as many people as possible,” said Aimee Monge, a youth leader at North Valley church. “Love can be shown in different ways but sometimes it is the small things that make a difference. We also want people to know that we are thinking and praying for them, which can also be significant.” On Aug. 30, some of the team members kicked off the project and

visited an older couple who is very dear to the North Valley congregation and had been homebound since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The youth brought gifts, sang hymns and prayed for the couple’s well-being. “We had a wonderful time during our visit,” said Monge. “We were truly blessed!” Participation isn’t limited to young people. Anyone can participate by donating money for projects, assisting in community service or simply praying for the ministry.


Classified Ads 43 | Obituaries 44

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SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2020 43


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Aline Wharton Garner Nolan passed away on Aug. 6, 2020 in Amarillo, Tex. She was at home to be near family and loved ones. Aline Lefern Wharton was born on Jan. 1, 1933 in Dalhart, Tex., to LeRoy and Grace Wharton. Aline was the second New Year’s baby born in Dallam County that year. Although she was not the only contender, she had no choice but to share the spotlight. Aline attended school in the little two-room schoolhouse at Bunker Hill through the seventh grade and then Sedan, N.M., for the eighth grade. She graduated from the Boarding Academy at Southwestern Junior College in Keene, Tex., in 1951. She also attended college there. She returned to Amarillo and attended Draughon’s Business College. Aline was a lifetime member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and served as treasurer for many years. At the time of her passing, Aline was a member of the Amarillo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Amarillo, Tex. Aline Wharton married Raymond Garner in 1952. They were blessed with three children: son, Kyle and twin daughters, Kayline and Fayrine. They lived in the Bunker Hill community and the children attended school in Texline. Aline was involved in helping where she could and served as president of the local PTA. She was also a member of the Bunker Hill Home Demonstration Club and helped with the Interstate Fair. Feeling that talented people should be able to compete, she started the first talent contest at the fair. Aline owned an interest in the Texline Commercial Cattle Feed Yard, one of the first feed yards in the Panhandle. After they closed, she went to work for Texline Grain and the Nyco Bonding Company, where she was in charge

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Obituaries Chapman, Catherine “Cathy” Denise Palmer, born July 16, 1956;

died Aug. 23, 2020, Wynne, Ark. Church membership: Forest City Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by parents, James A. Palmer and Marye Belle Isom Palmer; husband, Steve Chapman, Sr.; brothers, Sam and James Palmer; sisters,

of warehouse receipts. In 1977, Aline and her daughters moved to a ranch just outside of Tucumcari, N.M. Aline lived in Tucumcari for 26 years before she sold the ranch and moved back to Dalhart to care for her mother and look after her farming and ranching interest in this area. She enjoyed trout fishing and knitting. In April 2017, she relocated to Amarillo. Aline’s father, Roy Wharton, served on the boards of Sandia View Academy in Corrales, N.M., and Southwestern Junior College (now Southwestern Adventist University) in Keene, Tex., for several years. He is well respected in Dalhart, Tex., and Dallam County. Aline is survived by a son, Kyle of Boise, Idaho; twin daughters, Kayline and Fayrine, both of Amarillo; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She is preceded in death by: her husband, Gilford Nolan; her parents, Roy and Grace Wharton and brother, Troy Wharton. We will always cherish the memories that time does not erase. The sun has set on an amazing life well lived. Aline’s final resting place is in Dalhart,Tex., awaiting the return of our Savior.

Clarice Leonard, Leverne Duncan, Frances Laney, Jennie McAdamas and Lolita Schlosser. Survivors: sons, Steve Chapman, Jr., Adam Chapman and Josh Chapman; brother, Rock Palmer (Judy) of Wynne; sister, Debbie Stokes (Cecil) of Arcadia, Ind., and two granddaughters.

Eaton, Robert William, born Aug.

30, 1932, San Diego, Calif.;

died July 15, 2020, Gentry, Ark. Survivors: wife, Ruby; four daughters, Rhonda, Velda, Charlotte and Kerry; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Hackaway, Betty, born Sept. 25,

1944; died June 19, 2020, Harrah, Okla. Church membership: Summit Ridge Seventh-day Adventist Church.


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Edward Lloyd Johnson was born on Oct. 10, 1928, in Providence, R.I., to Walter “Max” Johnson and Sarah “Sadie” Johnson. He was one of three children, having a brother, George, and sister, Carolyn. He grew up two blocks from his beloved ocean. He attended Buttonwood Elementary and graduated from the local high school in Apponaug, R.I., in 1946. He then joined the U.S. Army. While in Korea, he was baptized in the Han River at the age of 18. When he returned to the states, he studied at Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Mass., graduating in 1953 with a B.A. degree in Theology. Ed taught in several schools throughout the northeast, including South Paris, Maine; Severna Park, Md.; and at Greater Boston Academy in Stoneham, Mass. He pastored for many years in southeast California, serving many locations there as well as in the Wyoming Conference. His service of ministry took a new direction when he became an inspector for the Inspector General of Oklahoma. Organizations that he worked with included daycares and the School for the Blind. Ed and Helen met at the Central Church in Oklahoma City, getting acquainted through their spiritual gifts of music. They began their lives together in Harpswell, Maine, in 1989 with Ed’s cousin officiating. Retiring with Helen to Marshall, Tex., Ed began his pastoral ministry again and served for the next eight years. He and Helen provided teaching, preaching and musical concerts much to the delight of the Texas Conference, just as they had for the Oklahoma Conference. During this time, Ed and Helen served eight times as tour guides at the William Miller Farm in Whitehall, N.Y. They then

Hardie, James (Jim) H., born July 1, 1927, Prunedale, Calif.; died April 12, 2020. Church membership: Mt. Ida Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by parents, James and Meral Hardie; wife; sister, Katherine; brother, George; one granddaughter. Survivors: two sons, Jay (Candi) Hardie of Rose Bud, Ark.; Bruce (Rita) Hardie of Mesquite, Tex.;

daughter, Sharon (Donnie) Linam of Harrison, Tenn.; five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Johnson, Alberta, born April 16,

1922, Toledo, Ohio; died Aug. 8, 2020, Gravette, Ark. Church membership: Sulphur Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by her parents, Bert and Alma Mulinix; husband, Henry; daughter,

moved to Granbury, Tex., and then to Keene, Tex., to be closer to Helen’s two daughters. They blessed both the Joshua and Weatherford Seventh-day Adventist Churches. Edward passed to his rest (after having Christmas with the family) on Sabbath, Dec. 28, 2019. He will be cherished as an avid student of the Bible, sharing the love of God through his 91 years. Ed is survived by his wife, Helen Wright Johnson; two daughters, Diane Johnson Sedgwick and her husband, Brand and their two daughters, Ann and Jani; Deborah Johnson Campbell and her husband, Dennis and their two sons, Scott and Chris; two sons, David Johnson and his wife, Edna and their children, Emily and Iain; Robert Johnson and his wife, Kelly and their children, Timothy and Beverly; two stepdaughters, Virginia Gifford and her husband, Marvin and their children, Stephanie, Eric and his wife, Jen, and family; and Brian; JoAnn Loignon and her son, Austin, and his wife, Leslie. Ed had several great-grandchildren, one-great-great-granddaughter, several nieces and nephews, and a host of friends from many places that the lives of Ed and Helen touched.

Linda; granddaughter, Dixie and great-grandson, Brett. Survivors: daughter, Chris Keesee (Charles) of Gravette; six grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Russell, Marguerite Louise, born Nov. 18, 1927, Chandler, Okla.; died Sept. 1, 2020, Mission, Kansas. Church membership: Shawnee Seventh-day Adventist

Church. Preceded in death by husband, Cecil D. Russell; parents, James and Nellie Phipps; brother, Wayne Phipps; one and one great-grandson. Survivors: daughters, Marilyn Chung (Alfred) of Ocala, Fla.; Joyce Tredinnick (Jack) of Shawnee, Kansas; son, Donald Russell of Edgewater, Md.; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2020 45


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Ruben Daniel Pechero, MD, (Rt. Lt. Col.), beloved husband, Papi and Lelo, drew his last breath on July 28, 2020, after a short battle with COVID-19. Ruben was born to Elias and Maria Pechero in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, on January 6, 1935. There he received his medical degree and shortly married Norma Nerea Mulinari. In the early months of their marriage, they embarked on an adventure to Lima, Peru, as missionaries. During this time, they brought two sons into the world, Marcelito, Daniel who only lived three days, and Guillermo Ruben. After four years of practicing in Peru, Dr. Pechero moved to the United States, where he received his training in Orthopedic Surgery. After 44 years of marriage, Norma lost her battle with cancer. Ruben was fortunate to find happiness once again with Cristina Zanelli for 14 years. Ruben enjoyed caring for his patients and learning about the needs of others and how he could assist them in their struggles. His entire life was devoted to serving the Seventh-day Adventist community as a mission-minded physician. Exercise and a healthy lifestyle were of great importance to him and he exercised six days a week up to his illness. Ruben is preceded in death by his father, Elias; his mother, Maria; his first wife, Norma and his first son, Marcelito. He is survived by his current wife, Cristina Zanelli Pechero; his brother, Jose Maria Pechero; his four children, Guillermo Pechero, wife Angela; Mariella Pechero; Wendy Pechero Lastine, husband Craig; Cindy Pechero Boyko, husband Trent; three stepchildren, Valeria Abbruzzese Borchichi,

Money, JoNell, born June 29, 1938, O’Keene, Okla.; died Sept. 12, 2020, Canyon, Tex. Church membership: Amarillo Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by her parents, Phil and Lucille Jones. Survivors: husband, Edel Money; daughter, Tammy MoneyBrooks (Dennis) of Texas; sons, Tom Money (Francie) and Tim Money (Pam) of Texas; four grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Owen, Gary, born Sept. 26,

1945, Ardmore, Okla.; died Aug. 11, 2020, Ardmore, Okla. Preceded in death by parents, Faydene and Roy (Buck) Thomas Jr.; sister, Judy Henderson; brothers, James (Slick) Thomas, Bill Thomas and Pete Thomas. Survivors: sister, Glenda (Charles) Henderson; brother, Wayne (Lenabeth) Musgrove; sister, Betti Taube; Charles (Barbara) Dunlap and Ray Dewberry.

husband Marcelo; Martin Abbruzzese, wife Paola; Laura Abbruzzese; 13 grandchildren, Lauren Bishop Vasquez (Israel), Guillermo Ruben Pechero, Jr., Nolan Bishop, Gabriella Pechero, Colby Boyko, Christian Boyko, Amanda Pechero, Noah Bishop, Samantha Pechero-Loewen, Cathryn Boyko, Ruben Pechero-Loewen, Chandler Boyko, Nicklaus Bishop; seven step-grandchildren, Agustina Borchichi, Valentino Abbruzzese, Francesco Abbruzzese, Agustina Borchichi, Ignacio Borchichi, Vitto L. Abbruzzese and Roman L. Abbruzzese and two great-granddaughters, Liliana Vasquez and Lea Vasquez. He leaves behind numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and more loved ones than could be put on this page. Ruben’s passion was his family and education. He believed that education is the passport to moving into the future and preparing us for today. Because of this belief, he donated the Pechero Building at Southwestern Adventist University and scholarships to many Adventist colleges. He was a professor at Texas University.

Payne, William (Bill) Carter, born Oct. 1, 1953, Parkersburg, W. Va.; died July 21, 2020, Jonesboro, Ark. Church membership: Jonesboro Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by his wife, Catherine Marie Payne and son, Dorian Henderson. Survivors: mother, Rose Marie Payne; son, Steve Henderson of Parkersburg, W. Va.; daughters, Pam Chapman of Jonesboro; Christina Cain of Houston, Tex. and

April Roush of Jonesboro, Ark.; brothers, Charles Michael Payne of Lake Alfred, Fla.; Robert Louis Payne of Washington state; Richard Anthony Payne of Orlando, Fla. and Charles Aaron Payne of Michigan; sisters, Brenda Johnson-Lewis and Samantha Moore; 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.


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He

has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

Back Pages: To submit family milestones, obituaries, announcements or address changes, visit SWURecord. org or call 817.295.0476. The Record also accepts expanded obituaries. For submission and cost information, call 817.295.0476 or contact Record@swuc.org. News and Articles: Send your local church news and high-resolution photos to your local conference communication representative listed on page 2. If you are interested in writing for the Record, email Record@swuc.org. Advertising: Contact Bradley Ecord at BEcord@swuc.org or 817.295.0476

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